President Biden also approves Governor Mills’ request for individual assistance for severely impacted Maine people
Governor Janet Mills today announced that President Joe Biden has approved the State of Maine’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration to help ten counties recover from the December storm that caused significant flooding, prolonged power outages, and extensive property damage across central and western Maine.
In addition to authorizing assistance to help cover the cost of public infrastructure repairs, the President also approved Governor Mills’ request to make direct assistance available to certain eligible individuals and families that experienced severe property damage.
As a result, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and other State agencies, will establish Disaster Recovery Centers in impacted areas. Disaster Recovery Centers are facilities in or near affected communities that offer services to help impacted people learn about disaster assistance programs, apply for disaster assistance, check the status of FEMA applications, understand FEMA notices or letter, meet with Small Business Administration agents, and get referrals to other agencies, among other services. The locations and durations of the Disaster Recovery Centers are being finalized now and will be announced as soon as possible.
“I thank President Biden for his approval of our request for a Major Disaster Declaration,” said Governor Mills. “The President’s approval unlocks federal relief funds that will help hard-hit Maine communities and families move forward from last month’s storm. My Administration will continue to do everything possible to help Maine recover from recent catastrophic weather events and to make our communities more resilient to the impacts of our changing climate.”
The President’s approval will make public assistance available that the State will use to repair public infrastructure in Androscoggin, Franklin, Hancock, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington Counties.
Individual assistance will be made available to eligible families in Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Oxford, and Somerset Counties, where federal officials found that the high level of damage met the federal government’s statutory financial threshold for individual assistance. Eligibility and application information will be made available by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) at a later date.
In the wake of the December storm, Governor Mills declared a State of Civil Emergency, in part to position the State of Maine to apply for federal assistance. Days later, the Governor asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to dispatch federal officials to Maine to conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment to evaluate the impact of the storm from the storm. FEMA quickly approved the Governor’s request and conducted the assessment in early January.
FEMA’s assessment estimated that the December storm caused more than $20 million in public infrastructure damage. The assessment also identified 13 destroyed, 106 major, 65 minor, and 31 affected properties across the five hardest hit counties, believed to be representative of further widespread damage in the area. On January 16, the Governor wrote to the President requesting that he issue a Major Disaster Declaration to make public assistance and individual assistance available, a request supported by Maine’s Congressional Delegation.
The President’s Proclamation is limited to the December storm and its aftermath and does not cover the back-to-back January 10 and January 13 weather events that caused significant coastal flooding. At the direction of Governor Mills, MEMA has initiated the Major Disaster Declaration process. If the damage from these storms meet the financial statutory threshold exceeding the State’s ability to respond, Governor Mills will seek another Federal Disaster Declaration.
The Mills Administration’s Maine Flood Resources & Assistance Hub contains links to helpful information, resources, and assistance for Maine people who have impacted by flooding and damages from recent weather events. The website is online at www.maine.gov/governor/mills/flood.